A time to reflect

Winter in Bombay…

January is a wonderful time to be in Bombay. The weather is just right… cool enough to encourage walks during the day and open air events in the evenings… and to stay under the rug in the morning (with the excuse of the sun hasn’t risen yet, so why should I) and pretend for a minute that you are in Delhi… to wave away the cold bhelpuri and give in to temptation just this once with that steaming plate of ragda pattice

and not cold enough to let you ignore that slight foolish feeling when you want to cover yourself up with a sweater – or a shawl at the very least – after mere minutes out in the open. Slight nip in the air, you tell your friends sheepishly. You who, alas, live in Bombay, and not Delhi, for all that late morning pretense, and are not used to “winter”..

If December is full of year-end closings and chasing up on those elusive client payments and even more elusive tickets to your away-from-it-all place for that new year’s eve long weekend, january is all about soaking in the smoky smells of garam bhutta and channa chor garam, and starting the year on a festive note.

Sankranti comes and goes, kites hover in the air two weeks hence, lost and forlorn, not too happy with the no-strings-attached state. All of Bombay sweats and cheers for the Marathon (the world huffs and puffs while the Kenyans walk their way to the first few places, no sweat). The Strand Sale calls out enticingly to those of us with the strong spirit and weak credit history. The Banganga festival (which I always intend to catch, and always miss) takes place – music in the open, seemingly from the deep.

The IMG janfest happens late in the month; the weekend saw L Subramaniam on Saturday night and Sunday evening with Kumar Mardur’s Yaman and Hamsadhwani, Shubha Mudgal, her smile as dazzling as her music and finally Pt Jasraj. IMG also had, as part of their photo-exhibition, an audio visual feature on Ustad Bismillah Khan – bright eyes, childlike glee mein paanch saal ka tha jab mere haath mere mamu ki shehnai lagi… main kuch toh baja raha tha par mujhe maloom nahi tha ki yeh kya hai… phir mamu ne poccha, bacche tum kya baja rahe ho…?

Then the Mumbai Festival goes on from 14th – 28th January… Bandra Reclamation grounds has Maharashtra Maaza, an open handicrafts and food fair… here I need to say that eating aforementioned ragda pattice, with a live shehnai concert for background music is a not-to-be-missed experience.

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We caught the dance festival on Saturday at the Land’s End ampitheatre in Bandra; there is something magical about watching music and dance performances in the open… Short performances of Odissi, Bharatanatyam, Kathak and Mohiniattam. And at each break in the performance, just cheeel cheeel filtering in loud and uninvited from the hotel disco…

Feet that speak…

feet that speak - odissi feet that speak - bharatanatyam

sometimes aruge with the tabalchi

feet that speak - kathak

and are sometimes silent too

Kathak-ka-thai

Rukmini Jaiswal, one of the prettiest dancers I have ever seen, all the way from Lucknow… Kathak, a narrative dance form characterized by fast footwork (tatkar), spins (chakkar) and innovative use of bhav in abhinaya. It has today a form that has been influenced at various times in the past by mythological narratives by kathakas, temple dances, the bhakti movement (both Vaishnavism and Shaivite), and Persian influence of the Mughal courts in the 16th century onwards

Kathak...

Bharatanatyam, a modified form of the sadir, the traditional dance of the temples of Tamilnadu…

The word Bharata is interpreted as the dance form created by sage Bharata, has within it the essence and uniqueness associated with Bharatanatyam:Bha for Bhava or abhinaya and expression, Ra for raga or melody, and Ta for tala or rhythm

Sujatha Nair, performing Mohiniattam, the dance of the enchantress

Dance of the enchantress

The vocal music of Mohiniattam involves variations in rhythmic structure known as chollu. The lyrics are in Manipravala, a mixture of Sanskrit and Malayalam. The mohiniattam dance is performed to this accompaniment by the subtle gestures and footwork of the danseuse. The performer uses the eyes in a very coy yet sensual manner, the purpose being to enchant the mind without enticing the senses

Here Shabari tastes the fruit before offering them to rama wandering in the forests…

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hey, these fruit are yummy, says lord rama…

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I cannot say this enough – I love Bombay, and I love winter in Bombay slightly more…

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